IT Leaders Still Face Pressure to Invest Wisely to Support Business

NEWS ANALYSIS: IT executives remain under pressure to invest in computer systems that deliver the best business outcomes, even with tighter technology budgets.

IT Budgeting Decisions 2

LAS VEGAS—The annual Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure and Operations Management Conference kicked off here today, offering attendees advice on how to deal with the myriad changes, challenges and choices they have to deal with today, from budgets to business outcomes.

Dave Russell, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst, and Robert Naegle, a Gartner Research vice president, used their opening keynote to frame the issues facing today’s technology executive. “Be ready to drive business outcomes and fundamentally think different about how you drive outcomes and why you do it,” Russell said. “It’s not about what you do but why you do it.”

Turning the mindset of the technology executive away from technology for technology’s sake is not a new idea, but it’s worth repeating, given the current and near-future environment facing businesses.

For the current generation of IT executives, It’s a "change or else moment," Russell and Naegle said, which applies as much to the technology solutions businesses are considering as the future careers of those working in IT. It’s important for technology managers to adapt and take on new roles—especially new leadership roles—to lead the business through the current environment.

They outlined four strategies for rethinking IT value:

First, technology leaders need to align IT initiatives with business value in terms of revenue, cost and risk considerations. Again, it's not a new thought, but it’s one that is growing in importance.

Second, IT executives need to manage spending and invest in IT effectively, in terms of both cost optimization and investing only in technologies that will grow or transform the business.

There isn’t a lot of new money to put into that transformation. The latest Gartner research shows that IT budgets are increasing for 2017, but only modestly. Gartner found that 48 percent of budgets are increasing, 22 percent are decreasing and 30 percent are flat into next year, with an overall average increase of 2.2 percent.

Third, IT managers need to work to increase their influence on the business through leadership and innovation, and then do a better job of communicating the IT value story from the perspective of the business customers.

Finally, IT executives must continue the fight to earn a seat at the management table with business leaders by consistently delivering business value along with fiscal responsibility. IT must be run like a business for the business.

Offering a different kind of perspective on the future was Peter Levine, a general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. He discussed his view of the technologies he believes will shape the future from an investment perspective, taking a page from the Gartner “Hype Cycle” analysis tool.

On the rising edge of innovation, he sees quantum computing, microservices and APIs. Microservices is the idea that large, monolithic applications can redesigned and broken down into component parts and exposed to developers through APIs. “We see a lot of companies driven by APIs. The joke is that every Linux command is becoming a company,” he said.

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture,...